Good Governance, Only Tool To
Conflict Resolution & Governance
Editors: Ananda P. Shrestha and Hari Uprety
Published Date: August 2003
Published by: Nepal Foundation for Advanced
Studies (NEFAS) in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
(FES), Nepal in August 2003
Price: Not mentioned, Pages:
To quote, Immanuel Wallerstein, the
modern world system is in structural crisis and confronted
by an ''age of transition'' sustained by anti-systemic
In a post-modern world, the emergence
of post-class society has generated a new social stratification
and fault-lines grounded on the struggle for natural resources,
personality structure, gender, race, region, religion,
ethnicity, nation and exclusionary policies of the state.
Contradictions and conflicts are essential
aspects ofsocial and political life, but protracted conflict
has negative impacts on the political system because it
destroys the web of human relationships rooted in the
system of networks, writes Dev Raj Dahal, a political
scientist and also a contributor of the book under review.
And now the Nepalese society has also
been witnessing a protracted conflict between the establishment
and the CPN-Maoist since the last eight years, posing
a threat to the very integrity of the nation state as
hinted by Dahal.
The new situation has prompted people
to resort to soul-searching as to why the nation is being
pushed into the spiral of violence. And this has propelled
a section of people to engage in an intellectual debate
to understand causes and nature of conflicts, thereby
catapulting the ideas of the conflict management and resolution
in the market. lt is true that the idea of conflict management
alone does not help bring the warring parties to the road
of peace and reconciliation. Nonetheless, understanding
the problem accurately helps address and handle the matter
in a rational, inclusive and democratic manner.
Against this backdrop, the NEFAS with
the cooperation of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) has
brought out 'Conflict Resolution and Governance in Nepal'
which is a collection of working papers presented in two
separate seminars. The book has been divided into two
parts - 'Conflict Resolution in Nepal' and 'Governance
in Nepal'. In addition to providing a conceptual framework
to the conflict resolution, the first section with four
chapters, analyses the ongoing conflicts in Nepal from
different perspectives as weIl as presents a number of
suggestions to manage them. The second part that contains
five chapters seeks good governance as the viable tool
to end social, religious and economic disparity thereby
not allowing the conflicts to manifest in the society.
In 'Conflict Resolution: A Note on Some
Contending Approaches' noted political scientist Dev Raj
Dahal attempts to describe the fundamental sources of
conflict, major conflict types and various approaches
to conflict management. The writer provides theoretical
ground for understanding conflict and its implication
in the society by quoting various sources.
"Conflicts, like all human interactions,
can be perceived as a state of opposition and projection
of contesting viewpoints between individual, groups and
institutions," Dahal defines the term.
Classifying conflict into four categories
- structural, perceptual, manifest and latent, Dahal says
that conflict resolution techniques try to eliminate the
causes of conflicts by satisfying the needs, concerns,
interests of not only the conflicting parties but also
those affected by it.
Economist Meena Acharya in "Towards
Conflict Transformation in Nepal: Recent Trends in Government-Maoist
Dialogue' sheds light on the current imbroglio. She has
attributed ethnic diversity, caste discrimination, and
the geographic and religious divides to the emergence
of the current conflict.
"These structural discrimination
have been aggravated in the last decade because of political
corruption, rising expectation of the masses and social
traditionalism among the politicians. Economic policies
fostering dependency on foreign aid and foreign employment
has led to emergence of new classes - 'fragmented personalities'
and 'multiple states', she writes.
In his article, sociologist Krishna
Bahadur Bhattachan has tried to employ sociological perspectives
to describe the current government-Maoist hostility. Giving
an air of a maverick thinker, Bhattachan says, "'The
Bahunbadis must accept and recognise that there are serious
ongoing, surface and latent conflicts based on class,
caste, ethnicity, language, religion, gender and region."
He proposes referendum as the best way
to settle the various contentious issues.
Lawyer Yub Raj Sangraula in "Dynamics
of Continuing Conflict in Nepal: A Geopolitical Perspective"
calls for the recognition of the political character of
the problem, coexistence of diverse ideologies and prepositional
representative system, among others for conflict resolution.
Articles of Hiramani Ghimire, Chakramehr
Vajracharya, Biharikrishna Shrestha, Raghav D. Pant and
Hari Uprety dwell on public policy, governance effectiveness,
economic policy and peace talks. Shrestha points out fault-lines
in social, economic structures and in policy implementation
Two unsung innovations - the community
forestry programme and small farmer cooperative limited
that sprouted during the multi-party system are the well
illustrated cases of governance in Nepal. A system of
good governance that really addresses that grievances
of the people at the grassroot level can help avoid the
In his "Politics of Hard Choices:
In quest of Economic Policies and Programmes," noted
economist Pant hints at the incompatibility between the
ideology the political perties preach and the economic
programmes, they follow. "Economic decision making
is still confined to a few selected individuals with no
institutional channels for other individuals to make their
opinions felt in the domestic economy." In "Peace
Dialogue in the Process of Conflict Resolution in Nepal,"
Hari Uprety says the lack of balance development and justice-oriented
policies created a sort of " void" that was
eventually filled with the conflicts. His write up also
exposes the opportunistic posture of the political parties
on the issue of the Maoist problem and mobilisation of
army. "In the chaotic search for the market-oriented
policies, the policymakers had forgotten that Nepal was
a market hub ever since the country's inception and there
was the need to look inwards to promote a context - specific
market rather than look elsewhere for advice."
Despite being pedantic and academic
in some cases, the book offers different perspectives
to readers to understand the ongoing conflicts. Political
leaders, the policy makers and the common readers can
benefit from the thought-provoking write-ups to equip
their minds and form opinion on the much-talked about
Source: The Rising Nepal, Friday
Supplement (24 October 2003)